Giordano Bruno: His Life and Thought

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a. A Haven in London

BRUNO landed in England with royal letters of recommendation to the French Ambassador in London, Michel de Castelnau, Marquis de Mauvissière (1520-1592) (Fig. 2). This remarkable man is one of the most attractive characters of the period. Like his compatriot Ambroise Paré, his humanity transcended the religious cleavage of the times. Bruno's period of residence in London was closely bound up with his relations to this humane, tolerant, and intelligent man and was the most fruitful of his whole career.

Mauvissière sprang from a noble family of Touraine. The manner of his first emergence into prominence throws light on the France of that day. The great Cardinal de Lorraine had expressed in his presence regret that he had not heard a certain sermon. Straightway the youth recited the sermon from memory. His fortune was made, and for the remainder of his long life he was in the service of his country, first with the armies but later more often in diplomacy. Probably he first visited England with the Cardinal's niece, Mary Queen of Scots, on her journey back to Scotland in 1561 after the death of her husband Francis II. Mauvissière was subsequently in constant correspondence with the unhappy Queen, who became godmother to his daughter. [1] He was in France again in 1562 serving under the Chancellor, Michel de l'Hôpital, who tried to mediate between the opposed religious parties, supporting the royal power but pleading for religious tolerance. In 1562 Mauvissière, a pious Catholic but known for his human sympathy, was sent by the King to advise the Parlement of Normandy to spare the lives of the Huguenots who fell into their hands. Later he was imprisoned by the English Army occupying Le Havre but was exchanged and sent again on diplomatic missions. During the Civil Wars, he always counselled mercy. Mauvissière was sent more than once to negotiate with Queen Elizabeth whom he reports as uniformly insincere and unreliable. His Mémoires end after the massacre of St. Bartholomew's night with a plea to his son to enforce right religion by example rather than by bloodshed. [2] Mauvissière was again sent to England in 1572 to appease Elizabeth's indignation at the massacre, and in 1575 he became ambassador in London, a post he held for ten years.

England was at this time a natural refuge for such a man as Bruno, especially since he had the opportunity of entering the suite of an ambassador. This gave him access to a brilliant circle in which scientific and philosophical ideas were being canvassed. Discussion on such topics in London was fairly free. Theological regulations were usually enforced there only when political opinions also were suspect. At Court literary interests were active, and it was of advantage to be an Italian. Englishmen of literary, scientific and philosophic taste looked for light from Italy.

Moreover, England and especially London was a recognized haven for foreigners persecuted for their opinions. Thus Flemings were numerous, and their skill in cloth and silk manufacture brought much prosperity to their adopted country. Huguenots also established important industries. A list of foreigners in his diocese drawn up by the Bishop of London in 1567 enumerates 3,760 in London proper, besides 1,091 in "out-parishes," excluding Southwark. [3] Some 3,000 of these were refugees from the Netherlands. France's religious wars were responsible for 512, while 138 were Italians. [4] A certificate by the Lord Mayor to the Privy Council in 1568 shews that the number was rapidly rising. There were then no less than 6,704 strangers in London, the Liberties adjoining, and Westminster. [5] At Elizabeth's own order these strangers were given considerable liberty of worship. The Queen wrote a gracious letter to the French Church promising protection.

During Elizabeth's reign, moreover, many great English nobles harboured Continental refugees in their palaces. Sometimes these were useful for foreign correspondence while some acted as spies or as accredited emissaries in the interminable intrigues that resulted from the disturbed state of Europe.

By the Court circle Italian refugees were specially cultivated. About the year 1580 there were in London some scores of distinguished Italians. The Queen liked to talk their language in public, and extended welcome to them.

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b. The Oxford Incident

Before Bruno settled finally in the home of his benefactor in London, he was involved in a curious incident at Oxford. How did he reach the university? It is hard to imagine a less congruous figure in the Oxford of that day, the home of the most conservative Aristotelian study. Bruno may have been invited by the Chancellor of the University, the Earl of Leicester, a great patron of the Italians in England, uncle of Sir Philip Sidney, and a member of the circle in which Bruno was known. Or the introduction may have been through John Florio (Fig. 3), [6] secretary to Mauvissière and tutor to his daughter, and thus a fellow member with Bruno in Mauvissière's suite.

John Florio is one of the fixed points in Bruno's career, and we must devote some space to him. His father, Michael Angelo Florio, was the son of an Italian Jew who had been converted to Christianity. Michael Angelo Florio had joined the Franciscans but had thrown off the friar's habit and had fled his native country. He became a Protestant, and found asylum in England, where he was befriended by Lord Burghley and was appointed preacher to the Italian Protestant congregation. His son John (1553-1625), the friend of Bruno, was born in England and was a well-known London character who produced writings that are important for the development of the English language. John Florio published in 1578 an attractive phrase book in the Italian and English tongues, The First Fruites of Florio. A similar work is Florio's Second Fruites to be Gathered of Twelve Trees (1591), which contains 6,000 Italian proverbs. In it appear two characters, Torquato and Nundinio. These were the names given to the two Oxford doctors whom Bruno held up to ridicule in the first philosophical work which he published in England, The Ash Wednesday Supper (1584). [7] "The Nolan" himself has a Dialogue with Torquato in the Second Fruites. John Florin is best known for his excellent Italian and English dictionary, A Worlde of Wordes or Dictionarie in Italian and English (1598). The second edition of this work cites Bruno as a source. [8]

Florio was probably the original of Menalcas in Spenser's Shepherds Calendar (1579) and is probably satirized as Holofernes in Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost (perhaps written in 1591) and as Parolles in All's Well that Ends Well (perhaps written in 1595). [9] He was intimate with Raleigh and Sidney, both educated at Oxford and with both of whom Bruno came in contact.

Another important work of Florio was his English translation of the Essays of Montaigne (dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney's daughter, the Countess of Rutland). Though this did not appear until 1603, Bruno may well have been introduced to Montaigne's work by Florio. Like Florio, Montaigne had Jewish ancestry. Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) had the advantage of travel in Italy and a leisured life on his estates in southern France. He thus developed a strong vein of individualism as well as tolerance. [10] Though far from the mood of a rebel, he observed the relativity of the findings both of sense and of reason and was therefore led to a philosophy of Nature not entirely remote from Bruno's views:

 But whatsoever shall present unto his inward eyes, as it were in a Table, the Idea of the great image of our universall mother Nature, attired in her richest robes, sitting in the throne of her Majestie, and in her visage shall read, so generall, and so constant a varietie; he that therein shall view himselfe, not himselfe alone, but a whole Kingdome, to be in respect of a great circle; but the smallest point that can be imagined, he onely can value things according to their essentiall greatness and proportion. This great universe (which some multiplie as Species under one Genus) is the true looking-glasse wherein we must looke, if we will know whether we be of a good stamp, or in the right byase. [11] 

Florio was in a position to introduce Bruno to Oxford. He had resided there and in 1578 he dedicated his First Fruites to the Earl of Leicester, Chancellor to the University. In 1582, a year before Bruno's arrival, he had joined the staff of Mauvissière.

Bruno's visit to Oxford may also have been facilitated by the most distinguished of the Italian émigrés in England, Albericus Gentilis (1552-1608), "the grandfather of International Law," who reached England in 1580 and settled in Oxford. He had great influence with Elizabeth, and was able to persuade her on one occasion to refrain from inflicting punishment on the Spanish Ambassador. He held strongly to the view that force should never be an instrument of religious conversion. [12] Among his friends were Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Thomas Walsingham, the Earl of Leicester, and Lord Burghley. His friendship with Florio, at least in later life, is attested by his Italian poem to the Queen in Florio's Queen Anna's New World of Words.

A close friend of Florio who was in Oxford in 1583 was Matthew Gwynne (1558?-1627), "il Candido," with whom Florio shared a love of music as well as of letters. This versatile man had lectured on music in the university. Later, having studied medicine, he became one of the earliest professors at Gresham College in London.

In June 1583 Oxford prepared entertainment for a Polish noble, Albert a Laski, who was on a mission to England. [13] This Albert a Laski was subsequently introduced by the Earl of Leicester to John Dee. The Queen herself is stated to have sent money to Dee to enable him to entertain the Earl and his Polish guest at dinner on 31st July, 1583. A Laski became involved in the experiments of John Dee to obtain the "Philosopher's Stone." On leaving England in September 1583 he took with him both Dee and his pupil Kelly. They worked at their chemical experiments at a Laski's castle near Cracow. Ultimately he tired of them, and their subsequent travels to princes who entertained them and passed them on with a gift recall the experiences of Bruno himself. They were able to return to the care of their own monarch, but no such haven awaited Bruno.

Gwynne was among those who made "disputations" at the Oxford entertainment in 1583 in honour of Albert a Laski, and it may have been at Gwynne's suggestion that Bruno was invited to take part. In any event the result was disastrous. It could hardly have been otherwise.

Here is Bruno's impression of the general characteristics of members of the university:

 They spoke Latin well, [were] proper men,...of good reputation ... fairly competent in learning but mediocre in education, courtesy and breeding..., well furnished with tides ... for 'tis yes my master; yes my Father, or my mistress; yes sir forsooth;...elect indeed, with their long [academic] robes, clad in velvet. One wore two shining gold chains about his neck while the other, by God, whose precious hand bore twelve rings on two fingers, had rather the appearance of a rich jeweller who would wrench eyes and heart from the amorous beholder.... Did they know aught of Greek? Aye and also [14] of beer.... One was the herald of the idol of Obscurity and the other the bailiff of the goddess of Presumption. [15] 

"Go to Oxford," he says again,

 and let them recount to you what happened there to the Nolan when he disputed publicly with those doctors of theology in the presence of the Polish prince Alasco [sic] and others of the English nobility. Would you hear how they were able to reply to his arguments? How fifteen times by means of fifteen syllogisms, a poor doctor whom on this solemn occasion they had put forward as a very Corypheus of the Academy, was left standing like a chick entangled in tow? Would you learn with what incivility and discourtesy that pig comported himself, and the patience and humanity of him who shewed himself to be born a Neapolitan and nurtured under a more benign sky? Are you informed how they closed his public lectures, both those on the Immortality of the Soul and on the Five-fold Sphere? [16] 

"That pig" was Doctor John Underhill, Rector of Lincoln College and Chaplain to Her Majesty. [17] In the Oxford archives there is no record of Bruno's visit, which evidently created less impression on the officials than on himself. It may be that his discourses were given in private. But clearly Oxford was no place for him, [18] and he returned or was returned promptly to his refuge under the more tolerant roof of the long-suffering Mauvissière.

In a little book surreptitiously printed by Bruno in London, probably in 1583, there is a curious brief Epistle addressed by him "to the most excellent Vice-Chancellor, the most renowned Doctors and most celebrated Masters of Oxford University." [19] It sets forth, in Bruno's most bombastic style, both his own claims and the imbecility of those who reject his message. It is he who is "lover of God, doctor in a harder theology, professor of a most pure and harmless wisdom, a philosopher known, accepted and honourably received in the foremost academies of Europe." He is "the vanquisher of presumptuous and persistent ignorance who yet protests that in all his actions there is love of all his fellow beings, of the Briton, no less than the Italian, of women no less than men, of sovereigns no less than prelates." On the title-page of this tactless effusion, issued after the unfortunate Oxford episode, Bruno again prefixes to his name the title Philotheo which he used in the next three works, published in London. [20] Perhaps it is this work, perhaps another, which as "My Mnemosine, hidden under Thirty Seals and confined in the pitchy jail of the Shadow of Tears," is invoked in the first of the important Italian works which quickly followed his return to the kindly atmosphere of the French Embassy (Figs. 4, 5, 11).

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c. Bruno's Circle in London

We have now to consider Bruno's circle in London in so far as it can be traced. Like all that concerns his career, the details are obscure and can often be presented only tentatively. Of the closeness of his friendship with Florio we have many indications. In contrast to all other evidence, Bruno is presented by Florio in the Second Fruites [21] as urbane and gentle. In Florio's picture, Bruno's feud with Torquato [22] has melted into something like amused tolerance. The Nolan mildly chaffs Torquato on his late rising and luxurious habits, waits patiently during his robing, and mentions that he himself is an early riser and that he "rarely drinks except at meals." In a later chapter Florio summons up Nundinio, though the Nolan has retired. Could the name Nundinio be a pun on the name of George Chapman (1559-1634)? [23] It is reasonable to think that Bruno may have known the poet George Chapman, author of the English translation of the Iliad and an enthusiastic member of the "School of Night." His friend Matthew Royden (1580-1622) shared his interests. Nor is it very hazardous to suggest that the name Torquato is a pun on George Turner (1569-1610), who in the year 1584 was admitted a "Candidate" of the Royal College of Physicians, occupying successive offices after his election to the Fellowship in 1584. The circumstances of his election as an "Elect" of the College in 1602 suggest an association with unorthodox philosophy, for a letter has survived "To our very loving Friends Mr. Dr. Forster, President of the Physicians in London and to the rest of the Electors" from J. Stanhope and Robert Cecyll,

{QUOTE}to pray you (now at your election) to admytt Mr. Dr. Turner who is now the senior, into that place, and not to exclude him by preferring his junior, seeing we are informed that there is no other exception to be taken but his backwardness in religion, in which he is no way tainted for malice or practice against the State ... seeing he is for his knowledge and practice so well esteemed by divers noblemen and others in this place, and her Majestie herself, as it were to be, wished he might not be so disgraced, especially seeing his election as we are informed is not against the Statute and that it may be God may open his eyes hereafter to see his error, which we do wish with all our hearts. [24]{/QUOTE}

Among those who shewed kindness to Bruno were Sir Philip Sidney and his devoted friend Sir Fulke Greville. The latter appears as the host in Bruno's Ash Wednesday Supper, and two others of Bruno's Italian works are inscribed to Sidney. In the Dedication to Sidney in the Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast. [25] Bruno complains that enemies have interposed between Sir Fulke Greville and himself, but expresses his gratitude and affection for both patrons "before turning my back on your beautiful, fortunate and most courteous country." In the Dedication of the Heroic Frenzies, Bruno exalts the love of philosophy above that of woman, seemingly daring to remonstrate with Sidney's preoccupation with Stella.

There is evidence that Sir Walter Raleigh was a friend of Mauvissière. One of the Ambassador's letters to Florio instructs him to call on Raleigh and present an invitation to supper on the following day. [26] The same letter sends remembrances to Lord Howard of Effingham who was also in relationship with Italians in London. [27] From France Mauvissière wrote again to Florio sending special messages to Raleigh. There were certainly discussions between Mauvissière and Raleigh and other members of what came to be called Raleigh's "School of Night." [28] The setting of Bruno's Ash Wednesday Supper suggests such a symposium. Though he places it in Sir Fulke Greville's house, he afterwards stated [29] that it was under Mauvissière's roof. Doubtless the book was suggested by gatherings in both houses. We have undoubted evidence that Bruno's work was known to Thomas Hariot (1560-1621), the mathematician and astronomer who was the scientific leader of the group. [30]

In La cena de le ceneri Bruno, on his way to Sir Fulke Greville, notes the palace of Lord Buckhurst to whom at the Supper, he is introduced by Florio. This is Sir Thomas Sackville (1536-1608), who became Lord Buckhurst (1567) and later first Earl of Dorset. He was a poet and patron of Florio. Another character in this same work bears the familiar name of Smith. This benevolent onlooker holds the course for the discussion and is ultimately converted to the Nolan's view. He can perhaps be identified with Sir Thomas Smith [31] (1556-1609), Public Orator at Oxford in 1582, Proctor in 1584, and subsequently Secretary to Essex. Can he as Junior Proctor have befriended Bruno in the Oxford episode?

In Bruno's next work, On Cause, Prime Origin and the One, Florio perhaps figures again as the understanding friend under the pseudonym of "Eliotropio," [32] a flower which formed part of his coat of arms. It may be that this figure is partly drawn from Florio's young friend, the poet Samuel Daniel (1562-1619). In dealing with this euphuizing group, it is not extravagant to note that Eliotropio's first long speech opens by calling Bruno's task "La impresa che hai tolta," [33] and to recall that lmpresa (personal emblem) was the title of Samuel Daniel's first published work (1584), a translation from the Italian of Paolo Giovio. Daniel had just left Magdalen Hall, Oxford. [34] A certain N.W. attached a laudatory preface to this work, recalling "that which Nolanus (that man of infinite titles amongst other phantastical toys) truly noted by chance in our schools, that by the help of translations all science had their offspring."

Another contemporary Englishman who appears in the work On Cause, Prime Origin and the One is one Alexander Dicson, "learned, upright, loveable, well-nurtured and faithful friend whom the Nolan loveth as his own eyes." [35] This Dicson or Dickson was Bruno's disciple in mnemonics and published in 1583 a volume On the Shadow of Reason and Judgement, [36] dedicated to the Earl of Leicester and obviously inspired by Bruno's On the Shadows of Ideas of 1582. Dicson's work was promptly answered in 1584 by "Antidicsonus cuiusdam Cantabrigiensis G.P.; accessit libellus in quo dilucide explicatur impia Dicsoni artificiosa memoria." In a dedication to Thomas Moufet, G.P. gives a list of writers on mnemonics "memoriographae ostentatores Metrodori, [37] Rosseli, [38] Nolani, Dicsoni repellantur." Mnemonics were in the fashion in England, for G.P. produced another and similar work later in the year, and we shall notice Thomas Watson's volume on the subject. [39] It is unfortunate that we know no more of this Dicson.

It would appear that not all Bruno's encounters in Oxford had been unfortunate. In the work, On Cause, Prime Origin and the One, two names are mentioned as distinguished for their courtesy. One of these is Dr. Tobie Matthew, the very Protestant Dean of Christ Church who was subsequently Bishop of Durham and Archbishop of York. The other is a certain Culpeper, presumably the then Warden of New College. [40]

Can we identify among Bruno's circle any of the speakers in the work here translated, On the Infinite Universe and Worlds? Theophilo or Philotheo, who appears in all three of the Italian philosophical works, is of course the Nolan himself. "How can I speak of the Nolan? Perhaps, since he is as near to me as I am to myself, it beseemeth me not to praise him." [41] Elpino or Alpino is perhaps a punning name for Thomas Hill, a contemporary who sometimes called himself Mountain. Hill was a voluminous and miscellaneous writer interested in mathematics, astrology, dreams, magic, physical devices, etc., and was moreover an Italian scholar. [42] While treating the theory of Copernicus with respect, Hill does not accept it, but in Bruno's work Elpino is gradually converted to the new views. Of Gentilis and Florio we have already spoken.

If some of the identifications seem far-fetched, it must be remembered that Bruno's cryptic allusion to names was simply "playing the game" as practised by his circle in England. The aim was not secrecy, but rather a display of fancy and "precious" skill in the allusive indication of the familiar members of the Anglo-Italian circle. It was akin to the choice by continental humanists of allusive classical names.

Bruno may have first met in Paris the poet Thomas Watson (1557-1592) who was there in 1581. Watson was deeply influenced by Italian literature. In 1582 he had published Hekatompathia or Passionate Centurie of Love, poems inspired by or translated from ancient classical French and Italian writers; and his Latin poem Amyntas (1585) was based on Torquato Tasso. In 1590 appeared his Meliboeus ... siue ecloga in obitum ... Francisce Walsinghami. Now the name Meliboeus, as well as many of those connected with the Hekatompathia, occurs beside that of the Nolan in Florio's Second Fruites. Watson is also known for his First Sett of Italian Madrigals Englished, which brings him further into relationship with the musicianly Florio and Gwynne. But Watson himself points out a friendly connexion with Bruno. For in the Dedication to the Compendium memoriae localis which bears his name, he writes: "I very much fear if my little work is compared with the mystical and deeply learned Sigillis of the Nolan or with the Umbra artificiosa of Dicson, it may bring more infamy to its author than utility to the reader." [43]

From those known to have had relations with Bruno in London we turn to certain of those who probably met him. Their consideration will help to obtain a picture of the society in which he found himself.

Among Bruno's contacts was probably that delightful Cornishman, Richard Carew (1555-1620), whose gentle wit would soften irate spirits and whose scholarship must have impressed the critical Italian. [44] Carew was an accomplished Italian scholar, and was certainly in London in Bruno's time, since he then represented Saltash in Parliament. He was Deputy Lieutenant for Cornwall when Raleigh was Lieutenant and was a close friend to Raleigh, whose son, born in the Tower, was named after him.

There must have been opportunity for Bruno to meet Sir Edward Dyer (d. 1611), poet, courtier and diplomatist, a close friend and legatee of Sidney and friend also of Edmund Spenser and Fulke Greville. A well-liked man of upright character, though often out of favour at court, he lived a desultory, aimless sort of life and his only publication was a whimsical work, The Prayse of Nothing. [45] He was patron of John Dee and of Thomas Digges [46] and was interested in foreigners and in translation from Spanish and Italian.

Gabriel Harvey (155o-1631), poet and scholar, had scientific interests. He was a very early Copernican, and in his Musarum lacrimae of 1578 he praises Copernicus and Rheticus. His advocacy of the great French anti-Aristotelian Petrus Ramus in the Cambridge controversies extended to the mathematical as well as the philosophical field. [47] He was held to be a man of "paradoxes and strange opinions" of the very type to whom Bruno's wild views would appeal. Moreover, as we have seen, he was probably present at Oxford on the occasion of Bruno's dispute with Dr. Underhill. Perhaps Bruno met Harvey's friend the poet Edmund Spenser (1552-1599), for there is in The Faerie Queene an echo of Bruno's cosmology. [48]

Another defender of the philosophy of Ramus was William Temple (1555-1627). He had migrated from Cambridge to Oxford in 1581 and there he may have witnessed Bruno's discomfiture. Temple may also have met Bruno in the company of Sir Philip Sidney, to whom he ultimately became secretary, after Bruno had left England.

Yet another friend of Sidney who may well have met Bruno is Sir Edward Wotton (1548-1626), first Baron Wotton, who had lived in Naples and was an accomplished French, Italian and Spanish scholar. He was in London in 1583 and 1584 but can hardly have been a friend of Mauvissière, who in 1585 defeated him diplomatically at the court of King James of Scotland.

Among Bruno's audience at the Oxford meeting may also well have been Robert Ashley (1565-1641), who proceeded from Oxford to the Middle Temple and later published translations from French, Spanish and Italian, including the work of Le Roy which he entitled Of the Interchangeable Course or Variety of Things in the Whole World (1594). [49]

Sir William Paddy the physician was a friend both of Florio and of Gwynne, and may therefore be presumed to have met Bruno. Bruno may also have met Bartholomew Young (fl. 1577) of the Middle Temple, who had travelled in Spain in his youth and translated both Montemayor's Diana from the Spanish and Stephen Guazzo's Civil Conversation from the Italian in 1586. We shall find good reason to believe Bruno to have had contact with a distinguished contemporary, Bishop Godwin. [50] Another physician whom we may perhaps imagine to have been in contact with Bruno is the versatile Thomas Twyne (1543-1613), one-time master of Canterbury Free School (in succession to his father John Twyne), graduate of Oxford before he studied medicine at Cambridge, a country doctor in Sussex but protégé both of Lord Buckhurst and of Sir Francis Walsingham, and friend of John Dee. His works include translations from the Aeneid, from the Italian of Petrarch and from Protestant theology as well as medical publications.

Again Bruno must have been in close touch with the printers who were bringing out works of Italian origin, especially John Wolfe (1557-1640); his own publisher John Charlewood (d. 1592), [51] Edward Blount, who became freeman of the Stationer's Company in 1588 and who published Florio's writings; and the Huguenot Thomas Vautrollier (d. 1587).

What of the Italian members of this circle of friends? The dominating Italian figure is Florio, and in the work here presented we encounter one Albertino who may well be intended to represent the great jurist Alberico Gentilis. [52]

There is a letter from Gentilis written from Oxford to his friend Hotmann, obviously referring to lectures of Bruno though not mentioning him by name. It reflects the impression of the fascination exercised by Bruno on the groups of scholars who assembled to hear him successively in Noli, in Toulouse, in Paris, perhaps even in Oxford, and certainly in London. "I heard," writes Gentilis, "from the greatest of men assertions strange, absurd and false, as of a stony heaven, the sun bipedal, that the moon doth contain many cities as well as mountains, that the Earth doth move, the other elements are motionless and a thousand such things." [53]

Bruno doubtless came into some contact with the more prominent Italians in London. He could not fail to have met the musicians Ferrabosco, father and son, nor Petruccio Ubaldini (1524-1600?), the prolific writer of both Italian and English prose and verse who dedicated to Lord Howard of Effingham a magnificently illustrated account of the defeat of the Armada. [54]

Besides literary circles, Bruno may reasonably be supposed to have met certain English astronomers and mathematicians. These we consider separately. [55]

The interest of Bruno's wanderings after he left London centre in his writings and philosophy. We shall therefore consider in turn the works which he produced at each of his successive places of sojourn, beginning with the London works.

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d. The London Years of Illumination (1583-85)

Bruno is now in his thirty-sixth year. Suddenly there appears the fruit of these long years of study and reflection that he had incredibly combined with his wanderings, his privations and the constant uncertainty of livelihood.

Six works on philosophy and ethics issued from Bruno's pen during the years 1584-85. In them are set forth his thought on the Infinite Universe. All are in Italian. The prose style is sometimes almost uncouth and is full of repetition, but there are noble prose passages, and interspersed in the works are verses in which he succeeds in conveying something of the harmony and beauty which he apprehends in the infinite universe.

It is interesting that Bruno chose the Italian for these works. The use of the vernacular for philosophical writings was in its infancy and in this matter Bruno was something of a pioneer. English had been used for scientific purposes but Bruno confesses that he never mastered that language. The circle that received him in London was familiar with Italian, and that tongue, flexible and still developing, was certainly better adapted than Latin to express the tumultuous flow of his thought. That he had a rhetorical mastery of Latin is well shown by his later works. His Latin philosophical works are to a considerable extent expansions of the three little London volumes and are distinguished by similar qualities -- a rush of language sometimes hardly coherent, sometimes, and especially in the verse passages, attaining true eloquence and exaltation. Some of the Latin chapter headings on the other hand exhibit a remarkable power of epitome. This is especially shown for example in the Table of Contents attached to the Acrotismus. [56] But in many respects the six brief Italian works are Bruno's masterpieces.

The three Italian philosophical works bear the imprint "Venice, 1584," while the three Italian ethical works are all ascribed on their title-page to Paris. Nevertheless, all six works were published in England. In spite of the comparative tolerance that prevailed in England, there is no doubt that too intimate connection with Bruno's views would have entailed difficulties for the printers. So the false imprints were used without printers' names. Not only, however, can the type be recognized as of English origin, but at his trial before the Inquisition at Rome, Bruno admitted that these volumes had all in fact been printed in London. Moreover, two of the Italian ethical works are dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney. Bruno at his trial averred that his printers had advised him that the imprints of Venice and of Paris would increase the sale of his books. [57]

It is noteworthy that all the six Italian works were concerned with Bruno's original thought. While he drew for illustration on his amazing knowledge of writers from the ancients right on to his own contemporaries, we fortunately hear no more of Lull during the remainder of this happy interval. Before we can consider these Italian works written in London, it is necessary to make a preliminary survey of their author's cosmology and philosophy.

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